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California 3, Us 3, Arnie 2, Tom Perez 2, Newsom 2, Ruslyn Lee 2, Melinda 2, Duncan 2, Seth Walsh 2, South Philly 2, Roslyn 2, Washington 2, Oakland 2, Thipl 1, Dr. King 1, Ricky Ricardo 1, Carl Hoover Walker 1, Suburban Minneapolis 1, United States Senate 1, Obama 1,
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  SFGTV2    [untitled]  

    January 21, 2013
    12:30 - 1:00pm PST  

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from a family of doctors, actually, i'm the only lawyer. all my 4 siblings were doctors, i promised them i'd never be a plaintiff's personal injury lawyer and i kept my promise. but when i heard this very earnest person talk about how she's invested so much time and energy into bullying, i found myself asking, how do we know it's working? there are a lot of things that seem intuitively plausible and appear to be anecdotally moving the ball forward, but we need to move beyond that. we need to, among other things, figure out what indeed are practices that work and we need to understand in so doing that what may work in sioux falls may not work in san francisco. we get that. so solutions need to be taylored to local communities, solutions need to reflect the fact that there are many, many dimensions to this issue. let me tell you about the few
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dimensions that we see in the course of our work. russ land is the assistant attorney general and we've taken partnership to new levels with the department. they have put out guidance on bullying and distributed it to all the jurisdictions around the country because we've often seen in our work that there are so many superintendents and school leaders that are doing great things, but there are others that either have the wrong policies in place or, quite frankly, don't know what to do. and so what they end up doing is nothing. and we cannot allow the appalling silence of good people to become the status quo, to quote dr. king. we must empower them with the tools that they have and they need to move forward and that is why we spend so much time working together on these issues. we've been to the communities in south philly high school where we saw in one day alone 15 asian students who
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had to be taken to the emergency room as a result of a persistent pattern of harassment. they didn't speak the king's english. my father spoke ricky ricardo english as well and he would have been a victim of bullying under that circumstance. so we worked with the school district. we don't focus on the criminal prosecution of the specific bully. that's an important element and we work with our partners in local government on that, but our focus has been on the system's issues, of working with the school superintendents, working with the school districts to create a culture of inclusion, to create a culture where people can be accepted for who they are. we've seen bullying in the context of kids with disabilities, kids who couldn't get off the bus because they
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were getting beaten up on the bus. the bullying of kids who are lgbq, that's probably our biggest growth area. these are kids who are being bullied because they are different. and in suburban minneapolis we saw quite literally over the course of a two year period, we saw 6 or 7 kids who took their own lives, six or 7. we can't get those lives back, tragickly, but we can redouble our efforts to be sure no one else has to bear the unspeakable. we see the bullying of latino kids, of african american kids, we see bullying in so many shapes and forms and i've seen it across the country. but i've always seen remarkable and couragous people at work, local law enforcement, local da's, people who are getting out of their lanes. the old paradigm of a da and a
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attorney and a police officer, you get bad guys, you put them this jail. you know, i'm telling you, i've done a lot of hate crimes cases and i know today's bullies are often tomorrow's civil rights defendants. if we simply wait for that train wreck to occur and prosecute, that's going to be like trying to cure cancer by building more hospitals. we can't do it that way. we've got to get into prevention mode. we've got to figure out strategies to prevent, we've got to empower school districts, we've got to empower parents, we've got to empower bystanders. when my daughter was bullied in 7th grade, her friends saw it, but they were paralyzed. they didn't know what to do and they did nothing. i don't begrudge thipl for that, they are wonderful kids, but they didn't have the tools to do anything about it. so we work on those issues and we work on those and our local school district was remarkable in their reaction. but in the work that we have
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done, ruslyn and i across the country, we have seen too many school districts, quite frankly, that have been slow to respond. and that is why we have to come together like this. that is why we have to get out of our lane and understand that we've got to make house calls. we've got to move beyond the traditional paradigm that i've a federal prosecutor, i wait for the phone to ring and i respond. that's not how melinda has responded, that's not how eric holder approach their job, that's certainly not how this superintendent is approaching his job and that's not how any of us can afford to approach their jobs. i don't want to prosecute any more hate crimes cases. i want to be, for those of you over 50, remember that maytag commercial, the guy is sitting there waiting for that phone to ring? i want to be that room. i want to have nothing to do. i want to take my niece up on her offer to golf at the present side owe because i want
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to have time on my hands. but we see this headwind of intolerance that is a growth industry, i real estate gret to tell you. we see it manifested in our hate crimes practice, so many cases involving teenagers who have been recruited at a young age to desecrate mosques, to do so many other unspeakable things in communities across this country. so we have to get to work and we are, in fact, getting to work and i am so impressed at the partnerships that have been out here. i'm so impressed that we recognize that bullying is no longer simply the bullying of your fists but it's the bullying that can come through the use of twitter, through the use of other social media. we did a case, again a hate crimes case involving an individual who called himself devilfish who over the internet was sending death threats to
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the heads of the national council of irasa to other organizations that had the audacity to october on behalf of immigrants. and we prosecuted him. you described one just now, that is not an isolated incident. you know that old addage, sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me, i categorically reject that. we have seen kids quite literally take their own lives as a result of cyber bullying and that is why i did a remarkable partnership in south florida with local law enforcement who had gone into schools talking about bullying, including cyber bullying and giving people concrete examples of things of situations they saw, it was remarkable. and that is why we will continue to do that work. so i hope today as we move forward you will understand
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that we are in this together with you at the department of justice. this is an all hands on deck enterprise. there is so much to do. i hope at the end of this day we will indeed all follow the lead of that student, walk out and say what are one or two things i'm going to do differently and better? how are we going to improve this situation? i hope if you take one and only one thing from melinda and my and ruslyn's remarks today, if you have an idea, please bring them to us. we want to learn from you. we are in this together and i want to say thank you because the most important thing we have is a recognition that you understand that this is indeed a national issue for us to deal with. i'm looking forward to the rest of the day, i appreciate your presence and i appreciate your leadership, melinda, and let's get on with it.
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(applause). >> i have the honor of sbre duesing our moderator, tom perez has graciously agreed to stay and participate in our first panel, business creating a healthy safe and inclusive environment for all school students, the role of our federal government. tom perez, assistant secretary for civil rights, ruslyn lee. she was also nominated by president obama to serve in her role as assistant secretary of education for civil rights and she was confirmed by the senate in may of 2009. as assistant secretary, ruslyn is assistant
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secretary arnie's duncan's primary advisor. before she joined the department of education she was vice president of the education trust in washington, dc and was the founding executive of education trust west in oakland. in these positions she advocated for public school students in california, focusing on achievement and opportunity gaps, improving can urriculum and instructional quality and ensuring quality education for everybody. she served as an advisor on education issues on a number of private ipbs institutions, she is a teacher, a lawyer, and a very influential voice on all policy matters. she was also passionate about ending this issue of bullying and bringing everyone together to stop this disturbing trend so please welcome assistant secretary for civil rights, ruslyn lee.
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as i said, our moderator is not always our lieutenant governor, of course he needs to introduction -- no, i get to say something. i get to say something. as everyone in this room knows, youngest mayor in 100 years, right? youngest mayor in 100 years when he was elected 10 years ago and he has remained an effective and visionary leader for everyone. mayor newsom gained worldwide recognition when he granted marriage licenses to same sex couples in 2004. we all remember those moving pictures of smiling couples on the steps of city hall, some of them their children watching on. his actions in 2004 thrust this civil rights issue into the national spotlight and cemented his reputation as a fearless public officials who does what he thinks is right. under mayor newsom's energetic leadership the economy grew and
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the city became an economic center for biotech and clean tech. gach newsom has been a trail blaitzer on combating homelessness and protecting the government. in 2007 he was re-elected as mayor with more than 70 percent of the vote, which is unheard of. please welcome our lieutenant governor, gavin newsom. >> my role was to get tom to speak. i'm just going to jump in because i want to keep you all on time. you've got an agenda packet and i'm going to be held accountable if you don't meet it. roslyn, let's pick up on tom's passion. he told me a couple points that are important, that is the consciousness awareness, this growing consciousness
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around bullying. and it's a question i guess that requires, has bullying gotten worse or have we gotten better to begin to recognize it? >> hard to know. tom and the president refer to as far too often as a rite of passage. we certainly are seeing evidence in ways that i don't recall, the levels of violence, the vitriolic violence, it's not just coming from the back of the school, it's coming at home, social media, you are inundated with it, the effects of it. we also certainly there's been an evolution of what we should tolerate. for me, for example, very early on in the administration i had the privilege of meeting with carl hoover walker's mother. he would have been 11 years old on
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the day that we were meeting. this was in the spring of 2009. and as she was leaving and she was talking about his death and he was one of the earliest stories that we had heard about a young person who had taken his own life because he was a member of the lgbq community. and she said it me, you know, he died because he was gay and he didn't know he was gay. he was 10. how could he know he was gay? and it dawned on me at that moment and through the many months from there until the time the guidance was issued, when tom says the sort of our work in the growth industry around students that are members of the lgbq community for far too long, it was not just tolerance, it was also a
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true and sincere lack of understanding that school officials had anything to do with it because of course, as you all know, we don't have the kind of jurisdiction over the lgbt community and their students as many perceived we had under title 6 for race color or title 9 for sex or 504, the ada for students with disabilities. but sex discrimination had been long since seen and recognized by the courts as also gender stereotyping. so carl might not have known that he was gay and he might not have been bullied and harassed because he was gay. perhaps it wasn't about his sexual orientation, it was about the fact he wasn't acting like a boy enough or girls aren't acting like a girl enough, in other words, it's gender stereotyping. that's a violation of title 9 and we made it clear, right?
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so that kind of training and recognition and help the superintendents and school officials so that what happened to seth walsh here in tehachipe where for years he was subject to bullying and harassment makes the leaders in schools realize they have a responsibility and also gives them tools in ways they haven't known they had before to do something about it. it is also, though, not just about civil rights enforcement. when we talk about bullying and harassment there is no federal definition of bullying. in fact, one of the things we're working on is getting a common definition so we know what that means. and tom and i have an enormous amount of jurisdiction and team support to help ensure that when it comes to race, when it comes to color and national
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origin and sex and disability that there is some real teeth behind that, but it also is about students that are bullied and harassed because they are short, because they might act differently or unique. that's where we have to provide the kinds of tools and supports and training to superintendents, like -- i see another one over there, tony smith from oakland, the sort of heroes that are deeply trying to transform their communities and recognize that this is also a community issue, that it is not just a school issue. >> tom, why don't we have a federal definition? >> well, we're working on it. i mean, i think there's a, when we had the white house conference there was a conversation about what is the federal role and there continues to be i think a robust debate in this country about whether education issues
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are local issues, whether they are federal issues, and what should be done. and there are a number of people --. >> tom, let me jump in. bullying is hardly unique to school day. >> uh-huh. >> so why in the broadier sense is there not a federal definition of bullying that transcends local jurisdiction on schools? meaning, we know what bullying is when we see it. everyone may have a variation, about why isn't there a broad definition? >> certainly in the south philly case, a number of those kids were dealt with in the local criminal justice system because they committed an assault, a pretty serious assault. so that's -- bullying has a continuum. that's the extreme end of the continuum. but then you see what happens on twitter and facebook and the things that occur there and
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that becomes a lot more challenging to come up with a definition that is sufficiently clear so that it can give guidance to local authorities and also respectful of constitutional first amendment issues of that nature. so it's a very good question to ask. it's a very challenging question to answer given the continuum of abuses that we see that we would put in the broad rubric of bullying. >> do you see, are there trend lines in terms of bullying? obviously cyber bullying and you talked about tweets, we have roughly 7.5 million people on facebook under the age of 13, there's no delete button for those images we post online. are you seeing those trend lines, are you seeing broader trend lines or are we
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just starting to measure these things because our consciousness is expanding with regard to bullying. >> that's another challenging question to answer. there are a lot of data gaps. i was a local elected official and we worked very hard to get schools to collect data on incidents of violence in the school and, frankly, there's a lot of data integrity issues involved. you don't want to be the school that has the highest number of incidents in your district. and so there's a built-in perverse incentive to sweep things under the rug. and so part of the challenge moving forward and i have had many conversations with superintendents and law enforcement officials as well about how we can address this data integrity issue and how a school won't be hoisted by their own petard because they had the courage to collect the data when other schools kind of look the other way. so, again, it's a hard question to answer in ways that are other than anecdote. there
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have been survey data and things of that nature, but i feel uncomfortable saying unequivocally this is what we know, these are the trends. i like to be evidence based and i'm not sure the evidence allows that. >> roslyn, challenges to you and secretary duncan. >> for the first time you can see data for the first time about the -- discipline and students referred to law enforcement, suspensions more than once. on the bullying and harassment we are also collecting for the first time ever data on the number of incidents of students disciplined for bullying and harassment. they are not
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exactly reliable. lots of folks aren't collecting this. our collection is at the school level so you could go and see all this data that pop out in nice graphs for the first time ever and look at schools in your community. there were in the sample, it covers about 85 percent of the nation's schools this year we're in store for a universal sample, you're looking at over 60,000 students that were reported, records, right, these aren't the anecdotes, these aren't the things in the hallway that don't get reported, sex, over 35,000, on the basis of national origin and over 10,000 on the basis of disability. one of the ways we are at least able to dig into some of the trends to look at the kind of complaints that come into our office, we have received
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more complaints than ever before under this administration. part of that is in answer a little bit to your first question, governor, it's not -- as i go in the field and we ask why is it we're receiving 30 percent, we're receiving 30 percent more complaints under this administration than in 2008. that was your question, is it that it's getting worse? what i'm hearing is that people trust that we are doing something about it and can help, that we are doing the kinds of outreach that the attorney general and the u.s. attorney talk about, as arnie says as well, get out there and teach in the communities, it can't happen from washington. over the last year alone, we've seen a 34 percent increase just between 2010 and 2011 on bullying and harassment cases. 32 percent of those are about sexual or gender based stereotyping and harassment, 41
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percent on disability and 40 percent on race and national origin. we've just started monitoring those trends since 2009 we've been collecting those data. so it appears that while historically we were doing a lot more on things like disability harassment, it's actually a kind of racial harassment that in fact might be getting worse and certainly getting a lot more obvious. one of the ways that we have partnered, department of education and department of justice was right here at the university of california in san diego where you might have heard about the compton cookout and the alleged noose in the library and we have heard similar instances in california and elsewhere, things like (inaudible) the kinds of resolutions and remedies we seek are not just about
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ensuring that those that were responsible for these activities that caused a hostile environment that adults knew of, should have known of and knew of and done something about it, is about ensuring that the culture that gives rise to that is eradicated. so our resolutions are about mining the data in detail so that you know not just what's happening but who feels comfortable saying it and how they are going about trying to remediate it. it is about doing climate checks because unless adults consistently talk to their student body and understand you don't know whether it's getting better. in lots of instances in our resolutions it's also been about ensuring that there was a community school leader committee on campus to help deal with some of these issues, to do things like peer to peer orientation because, for example, we know sexual harassment and sexual violence
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happens most frequently in the early days of the school year during things like orientation week. and it's also about ensuring that we realize the school day doesn't just end at 3:00. extra can urricular activities, partnerships between local law enforcement. >> tom, back to the question i posed about a federal definition, do you even have consistency within federal agencies of a definition as you partner with various agencies? >> well, our biggest partner is the department of education. we've done a number of cases together and we really start with the stools that we have which is title 9, title 6, and we have, those laws do have definition. so we work off those common definitions. and we have done, we have been able to do a lot more work in the lgbt context. ruslyn is correct, if you look under title 9 you won't see the words
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sexual orientation or gender identity but you will see sexual discrimination. there is a pretty robust body of case law that states that gender nonconformity, in other words, you're acting gay, you're a boy, you need to dress like a boy, that harassment is a form of sex harassment that if it happened in the workplace you could file a case under sexual discrimination. we've been able to use those tools to make a lot of progress. the seth walsh case in tehachipe is an example of that. so those are the tools we have. we have a lot of
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discussion, senator franken and others have introduced bills in the united states senate to address precisely the questions that you are asking, governor, and we have supported them and we continue to look forward -- as a prosecutor i always want more tools. you know, i see a problem out there and i want to have the tools to fix it. we passed a hate crimes law in 2009 that enables us to work with local law enforcement in much more effective ways to combat hate crimes including but not limited to lgbt motivated violence. so we'd love to have more tools. but, you know, with the tools that we currently have, we're doing as much as we can and i think ruslyn's point about the uptick in the number of complaints we're both receiving, i'm not sure that necessarily reflects, as ruslyn correctly pointed out, that there's an uptick in violence. the doctrine of futility often
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resulted in less complaints being seen. i think there's a commitment in the federal level to doing our level best on these issues. >> tom, you talk about tools. ruslyn, what kind of tools, part of this is raising awareness, looking at best practices, sharing those best practices. what kind of tools is your agency offering, what kind of tools is the federal government providing municipalities, community leaders, advocates and the like? >> i can talk about some. we need more. this is why these kind of conversations are so helpful and we no doubt learn more from you than we could ever impact. that is because there is no one size fits all to this. this is about, it is what gives rise to cultures that promote a bullying and harassment on a regular -- are about community and it's about what feeds into community. now, some of those tools, as tom mentioned,